Copyright Friday: Is your tattoo infringing on copyright law?

That Insane Clown Posse full chest tattoo you got in ’04? Your skin might be subject to copyright infringement. Before you get that Nike Swoosh logo or a tat of the The Burger King guy, give this National Post article a read:

Who owns your ink? Tattoos are at the heart of lawsuits involving celebs, artists and even coffee shops


Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia

More than 20 per cent of all Americans have at least one tattoo, and for millennials that number jumps to almost 40 per cent. What could be more intimately a part of you than a work of body art permanently inked into your skin? You probably assume that the tattoo on your body belongs to you. But, in actuality, somebody else might own your tattoo. Recent lawsuits and events have shown that tattoo artists and companies can have intellectual property rights in tattoos worn by others, including both copyright and trademark rights.

Tattoo-related lawsuits are not uncommon. Just this year, a group of tattoo artists for several high-profile athletes, including Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, filed a copyright lawsuit against the creators of the popular NBA 2K video game franchise because tattoos they created appear in NBA 2K16. The case is still pending in a New York federal court.

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